It’s more than a bit ironic that I find myself looking back on this show now that I just completed this third season because that’s also largely what goes on in season 3. To be sure, the whole show has always been about our titular character Natsume reflecting on his situation, but up until this point, it’s been more of a remembrance for Natsume how things used to be a lot worse.
Moving in with the Fujiwara will always be considered the big turning point for Natsume Takashi, and never has that been clearer than now. Throughout the first two seasons, he has bonded with a lot more people and youkai, and in this season is what brought it all together. This season tells us and Natsume, that for the first time after so long this is when you can look back at your life with a sense of fondness.
The two first seasons didn’t always reach perfection. Some of the episodes turned out to be filler, and in some cases, pretty bad filler at that. Contentwise, season 3 is no different in that regard, but qualitywise, season 3‘s fillers are heads and shoulders above what has passed before. But more importantly, season 3 does something the two first seasons didn’t do: they let Natsume’s friends into the spotlight. And not only Kitamoto and Nishimura, two of the “regulars” he meets in class, but Tanuma Kaname and Taki Tooru becomes downright regulars throughout the show, which is just and right, seeing as the two of them are the only ones who knows Natsume’s secret. And seeing as they do (no pun intended), part of what makes season 3 so endearing is to see how and why they want to understand, despite Taki’s total lack of and Tanuma’s greatly weakened ability to see yokai themselves, and how Natsume also realizes that suddenly he doesn’t want people to get involved because they’re his family, his friends
And speaking of which, Natsume’s relationship with the yokai half is as strong as ever. In what I’m assuming is a filler episode (for now), we see Natsume going on a trip, to the mountain where the Kogitsune lives, and it’s clear that the earlier self-appointed “crybaby weakling” has grown up and learned how to properly take care of himself. (Which includes dealing with bullies.) And yet, he is as unable as ever to deal with his emotions once they build up.